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Housing market failing older people

A YouGov survey commissioned for the report shows more than a third (36%) of older people are interested in retirement housing, either now or in the future – equivalent to over 6 million people.

If current levels of demand remain constant, supply will have to increase by over 70% in the next 20 years.

However, housing that meets older people’s changing needs is not being built, with many developers finding it complex and costly to deliver. The lack of specialist housing for older people with care needs is particularly acute.

In response to the findings, Shelter is warning that developers and local planners are missing a huge opportunity that would not only help older people, but could also ease the country’s housing crisis.

If just a fifth of older households who are currently ‘under-occupying’ their homes downsized, it could free up as many as 840,000 family-sized homes – more than have been built over the last eleven years.

Shelter is calling on local authorities to take a more strategic approach to older people’s housing, and to reflect older people in their housing market needs assessments.

We are also urging the Government to use the new National Planning Policy Framework to support the development of housing for older people, and do more to encourage older people to plan ahead for their future care and support needs.

Shelter’s Chief Executive Campbell Robb said: ‘We know that most older people want to remain in their homes and should be supported to do so. But this report shows that there are a growing number who would be interested in downsizing – be it to release equity or to bring down bills – yet are finding that there are very limited options available.

‘High quality housing in the right places, with support or care facilities available where needed, can help older people live healthy, active lives. Developers, planners and central Government must urgently look at ways to deliver housing that meet the needs of this growing group.

This is not only a fantastic market opportunity, but a move which would help older people as well as families in housing need.’

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  1. I like the point about how many older households are looking to downsize. I’ve been researching housing for the over-60’s and the challenge is how to arrange housing so people feel safe and secure but they are not ghettoised. More exploration needs to go into development of mixed age housing where communities are created so that different ages support each other. Older couples can baby sit. Younger couples can keep an eye on older couples. The older population don’t come from another planet – they are exactly the same as any other age – just older.